I am so excited to have been asked to guest post on Chicken Scratch Poultry's blog! Two weeks ago, one of our Australorps hatched five chicks from fertile eggs that Angie and Larry sent me and I would love to share some photos that I took chronicling their first two weeks.
Meet Annie. She's an Australorp, which means she has the tendency to go broody (sit on eggs until they hatch instead of laying her daily egg and hopping right back out of the nesting box). Australorps are known for their broody nature and Annie, true to her breed, goes broody quite often.
In fact, she helped me write my article on Breaking a Broody Hen last spring because we didn't have room for any more chicks and I wouldn't let her sit on infertile eggs. But she really wanted to be a Mom. So I promised her that this spring, if we could coordinate our schedules, I would let her sit on some fertile eggs. We did, and she did...and now Annie has five brand new baby chicks!
As soon as I realized that Annie was broody again (a quick peek at her bare breast confirmed my suspicions after catching her sitting in the same nesting box on each trip down to the coop for the past day and a half), I confirmed that my order of hatching eggs from Chicken Scratch poultry was still on schedule. My eggs were due to arrive in two days, which was perfect timing.
I ordered a mix of Blue Ameraucana, Coronation Sussex, and bantam Chocolate Orpington eggs and here's what hatched...
I believe these two little cuties are both Ameraucanas. I just love the coloring on the first little one.
I tried hatching some Ameraucanas last spring because I love their blue eggs, but Angie sent me all 'boy' eggs and I ended up with two roosters. She said this time she would sent me 'girl' eggs, so we'll see how good she is at sexing eggs (This is said tongue in cheek of course, sexing eggs is impossible).
I chose the Coronation Sussex because I have a Light Sussex already who lays beautiful pink eggs and is quite a gorgeous hen herself, white with a black 'necklace' around her neck. This little beauty is our Coronation Sussex. She will be white with a light gray 'necklace'.
The bantam Chocolate Orpington is the one I am really excited about. Already a gorgeous chocolate brown and yellow color, she's the smallest, but very feisty!
I also decided to put one of our Olive Egger eggs under Annie as well. I hatched an Oliver Egger hen and rooster last spring from Chicken Scratch Poultry eggs, and am curious to see what a second generation Olive Egger looks like and what color eggs she lays! Olive Eggers are half Marans and half Ameraucanas, and you can see the Marans coloring on this little one!
Annie and her chicks are nice and safe in a large dog crate in our coop and Annie has been busy teaching the chicks how to drink and what is good to eat.
Starting around day four, I let Annie and her chicks out for supervised outings at least once a day for some fresh air and so Annie can start to teach the chicks how to look for food, take dust baths and other critical chicken activities. She gently coaxes them out of the crate and then out of the coop.
I stick close as she teaches them what is good to eat and keeps an eye out for danger.
Annie gave the chicks a lesson in dust bathing yesterday afternoon. Not much interest yet from the chicks.
Then they head back into the crate to rest and warm up.
Annie and her chicks will stay in the crate for another week or so and then move to a larger pen with an attached run separate from our laying hens until the chicks are probably just about 18 weeks old. That way I can keep our layers in the main run eating layer feed and not worry about having pullets in with them who need starter/grower. By then Annie will probably be sick and tired of them and ready to hatch a new brood of babies!
This was my first time hatching eggs under a hen. I've only used an incubator in the past, but I am definitely going to get more hatching eggs from Chicken Scratch Poultry soon and try again. Maybe with Annie or maybe one of our other hens wants to give it a shot. Chicken Scratch Poultry offers so many beautiful and interesting breeds, they make it easy to want more chickens!
So you don't miss a single photo of Annie and her chicks!